CHAT: Forget business jargon, Green Mango helps where it matters the most - in our day-to-day lives. Yasmina McCarty talks to Sangeetha Devi Dundoo
The tasks that sound so mundane are often the most painstaking ones. How many of us are lucky enough to find a plumber/electrician/carpenter to finish an odd job without delay at the end of it, feel happy with the service offered? Perpetually relying on the watchman or neighbourhood aunt to find a good plumber or electrician has its perils. Imagine logging on to the net and searching for workers in your locality. Green Mango is a portal that lists 450 different businesses — from beauty parlours and dry cleaners to sports training and mechanics. Browse through names and numbers listed in your locality, read user reviews and make your call.
Green Mango (www.greenmango.co.in), established by Yasmina McCarty and Nandini Narula, is two years old and lists around 33,000 small businessmen. Yasmina moved from Manhattan to Hyderabad after shifting gears from advertising to micro financing. “There's only so much you can do with advertising. You work on a successful campaign and realise that you've spent three months of your life promoting a product. I wanted my work to contribute to a social cause,” she recollects.
Yasmina met Nandini Narula while working in Women's World Banking, a micro finance firm in New York.
“Both of us wanted to do something that would bring together entrepreneurs and consumers,” she says. In 2007, they did a feasibility study. “A place like Mumbai was too overwhelming. We wanted an emerging metropolis and Hyderabad was the option,” she reasons. Neither Nandini nor Yasmina had links with Hyderabad prior to Green Mango. “Hyderabad has now become my home,” she says.
Initially, Yasmina walked the streets of the city, armed with a plan of Green Mango, meeting entrepreneurs. “Most of them who earn just enough to sustain themselves hadn't used a computer before. Some even doubted if I'd be sharing their details with income tax officials. But once we explained how we would act as facilitator between consumers and businesses, they came on board. They felt the internet was a powerful medium to be part of,” she explains.
Entrepreneurs get themselves listed for a small fee and their contact details, photos and videos describing their work are uploaded. Consumers who make use of their service can rate them and give feedback.
After listing at least 450 services, Yasmina is being flooded with requests to list more maids, cooks and baby sitters. “That is a challenging area. If we help people find maids and baby sitters, we will also have to be responsible in doing background checks of the house-helps,” she says.
Green Mango also has its presence in Bangalore and plans are on to expand to other cities. Yasmina tells us how she and Nandini chose the name Green Mango. “Malou Bacani, a green mango vendor in Philippines, was working for over 15 years for 10 hours a day and never managed to earn more than $3 a day. She was constantly trying to save money to send her daughter to a good university. She, like thousands of small entrepreneurs across the globe, can benefit from micro financing.”
Have their efforts helped? “We did a study and found that people listed on Green Mango found their monthly income grow by at least Rs. 2000 per month,” says Yasmina.
As an idea, Green Mango has won many business awards and Yasmina and Nandini are now toying with new business ideas. “There's a lot to be done,” smiles Yasmina.